About Us


Branch Meetings

Meetings are the 3rd Saturday of each month at Twin Hills Country Club at 10:00 am. for branch.  The November meeting is the Foundation Auction at First Presbyterian Church, Joplin, MO.    Cost:  $11.00 for Brunch.  Please note that meeting are not held during the summer months of June, July and August.

Study Groups

Joplin Branch of AAUW provides the Drama Group/Book Club that meets throughout the year; members are encouraged to attend.

Joplin Globe Article Summarizes Our 90 Years of History in Joplin, MO

Bill Caldwell: The American Association of University Women celebrates 90 years of service

Sep 10, 2016

Bill Caldwell: The American Association of University Women celebrates 90 years of service
A Globe photo of an AAUW dinner on February 18, 1950 reviewing the activites of the organization over the preceding 20 years. It was held in the Joplin Woman’s Club. Courtesy | AAUW Collection, MSSU Archive

Bill Caldwell: The American Association of University Women celebrates 90 years of service
Photos of newly elected officers of the American Association of University Women were a regular feature of the Globe’s Sunday Society page through the years. Courtesy | AAUW Collection, MSSU Archive

Bill Caldwell: The American Association of University Women celebrates 90 years of service
Graduation activities for kindergarten students were often recorded in the pages of the Globe and News Herald. The AAUW and League of Women Voters sponsored the model kindergarten program in Joplin for 29 years from 1929 to 1958. These photos are from the May 23, 1937 issue of the Globe. Credit | The Joplin Globe

The Joplin chapter of the American Association of University Women celebrated its 90th birthday on June 14, Now, they are planning a birthday brunch on Saturday.

One can look through the Globe and the News Herald Society pages and watch the history of the AAUW unfold. The national AAUW, founded in 1881, is a nonprofit open to women who have graduated from accredited colleges. The group promotes equity and education for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Currently, the national organization has 1,000 local chapters with more than 170,000 members.

The first half of the Joplin chapter’s history sees one name over and again, Dorothea Bliedung Hoover. Dorothy Bliedung had been employed by U.S. Sen. Miles Poindexter in Washington, D.C. doing publicity work. She returned to Joplin and worked to organize a chapter of the AAUW for Jasper County. On Jan. 13, 1923, the chapter was formed and she became its first vice president.

The chapter was highly successful in recruiting new members, so much so that by 1925, the decision was made to have an east chapter in Carthage and a west chapter in Joplin. Hoover was instrumental in making that transition. As with any organization, fundraising was a challenge. The Joplin chapter was creative in its efforts — from selling colonial bedspreads to sponsoring performances by various entertainers.

One coup of the county AAUW was arranging for an appearance of poet Carl Sandburg in 1926 at Joplin High School, then at Fourth Street and Byers Avenue. He had just published his landmark biography of Abraham Lincoln and was in high demand as a speaker. Hoover had worked to bring Sandburg to Joplin, and her skill as a publicist can be seen in the advance introducing him to the community. The Globe’s headline read: “Here’s a Poet Who Is a Regular Fellow.” It went on to describe all his “regular” qualities and summed him up with these sentences: He “is a vigorous, healthy human who talks the plain, homely language of his native West. Writing, with him, is a trade, just like bricklaying or selling ore.”

His appearance was to benefit the chapter’s scholarship fund. Tickets cost 75 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Sandburg was so successful that the chapter brought him back in 1929 to entertain the state convention held in Joplin. Sandburg’s fee for that appearance was a pricey $200.

But the chapter was not just about raising money. In the late 1920s, reports of meetings began to carry discussion topics on early childhood education and the value of kindergartens. It was a cause that fit the AAUW like a glove.

In 1929 together with the League of Women Voters, they asked the Joplin School District if there were rooms available to start a model kindergarten program. The organization raised $400 for equipment in addition to a $200 grant from the National Kindergarten Board. The district considered the proposal and in January 1930, offered two rooms, one at Columbia and one at Irving. Eunice Sorrency Smith, a certified teacher who worked in conjunction with first grade teachers, was hired. On Jan. 20, 1930, in the middle of a blizzard, the two kindergartens were launched.

For the next 29 years, the kindergarten program continued under the AAUW auspices with more than 2,500 students. The program grew from two classes in 1930 to nine classes in 1956-57 with 270 students. The baby boom had overtaken the school district.

In 1956, the school district thanked the AAUW for its work and asked it to continue the program until such time as the district could take care of all the kindergarten students. In 1958, except for North Junior High School, there were no more open rooms. AAUW president Cleetis Headlee announced the sponsors were discontinuing the program because of the overcrowded conditions. They could not accommodate children in one room and would not discriminate with the large waiting list.

Discontinuing that program did not leave the chapter without purpose. Study groups focusing on education, college and vocational guidance, drama, international relations, and general projects provided for members’ interests. The drama group members had been involved with establishing the Joplin Little Theater. During World War II, the chapter participated in the drive to sell war bonds.

The chapter’s scholarship program has been an ongoing project. The Dorothea B. Hoover AAUW Scholarship Foundation, established in 1986, is focused on providing a 12-hour scholarship at MSSU for a nontraditional student each semester. One of the traditional fundraising projects for the scholarship is a holiday auction.

The chapter’s monthly meetings include invited speakers from the community on a range of topics from local history, biographical or literary interest, international affairs to scientific issues of the day. At its peak, the membership was more than one hundred women. Presently, the chapter has 35 members whose monthly meetings take place at the Joplin Public Library.

On Saturday, the chapter will celebrate its 90th birthday with a birthday brunch and a presentation by Missouri Southern State University archivist, Charles Nodler, on the chapter’s history. In November, the annual holiday auction will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Joplin. Throughout its 90 years, AAUW members have looked for and found ways to exercise their skills and expertise to serve the community.